This week saw the bitter end to one of sport’s most iconic and unexpected fairytales. The Premier League season of 2016/2017 saw the lowly Leicester City Foxes triumph as 5000-1 underdogs. Steering this charge was Claudio Ranieri, the experienced Italian Manager who brought the Foxes up from the Championship and into the hearts of sports fans across the globe.
One fine afternoon in London’s Mayfair, Leicester’s tycoon Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was all smiles as he perused the selection within Hedonism Wines. Bumping into West-Ham vice-chairman Baroness Karren Brady, Srivaddhanaprabha seemed only too proud to brag of the immanent media coverage regarding his recent sacking of Ranieri. Srivaddhanaprabha went on to complete his purchase of win to the tune of close to $500,000.
The idea of loyalty in Football has just received a swift kick in the teeth. Srivaddhanaprabha’s demeanor in this matter is highly worrying for the tight knit and loyal fans of Leicester City. The Disconnect between ownership and the family values the clubs try to promote was left naked and exposed.
Ranieri's triumph in last seasons title win will go down in the annals of history as the most successful underdog story to ever take place. The victory itself changed the landscape for betting markets, as preseason markets will never be priced as high. Understandably Leicester City’s form has warranted little praise in recent months. However, in the grand scheme of an already lost season, staving off relegation, without a manager is an unenviable position for the Foxes to be in.
As has become the norm, Srivaddhanaprabha’s vote of confidence in Ranieri was almost the kiss of death in itself. Srivaddhanaprabha had stated Ranieri’s position was safe all of 16 days prior to his dismissal.
Leicester’s recent performance against Sevilla in the Champions League showed signs of a life in Leicester’s defence and attack. The 2-1 margin is a manageable score line keeping the Foxes in contention for the big prize and most importantly, a confidence boost which was sorely needed. Srivaddhanaprabha has made a questionable decision at best when assessing the timing of this play. However, when considering the loyalty factor that evades so many multimillionaire owners, it’s even more disappointing that they hold all the power with little the fans can do.
Srivaddhanaprabha is a prime example of how the business-minded owners pay little thought to the intangible qualities such as loyalty and the family within football.
Ranieri will always be remembered as the manager who achieved the impossible.
By Nik Hatzi